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Are you planning your first European backpacking travel adventure? Packing for a trip can be exciting but stressful, especially if you don’t know what to bring. Whether you’re going for a week or for an entire summer, there are a few backpacking Europe essentials for your packing list. To help you get started, take a look at our backpacking Europe checklist, which will ensure you have everything you need for your trip. 

1. Backpack

The right backpacking can make or break your trip. A backpack that’s too big can make traveling uncomfortable, while a backpack that’s too small won’t allow you to fit all your belongings in it. 

When backpacking Europe, you won’t want to bring a large, rolling suitcase. European cities were built before the age of elevators, which means that you’ll be walking lots of stairs. When navigating the metro, the old buildings, and the hotels, you’ll be happy to be able to take the stairs instead of lugging around an unwieldy backpack.

When it comes to essentials for your backpacking Europe packing list, it’s best to bring a carry-on sized backpack to avoid baggage fees on budget airlines.

Backpacking backpacks come in sizes based on the liter volume that they can carry. A 30-40 liter bag is comparable to a carry-on size suitcase, while a bag that’s 50-65 liters will be too big to take with you as a carry on.

Make sure you choose a bag that fits comfortably on your body. If you’re visiting a store, the employees will be more than happy to help you select a few bags that are suited to your body size. 

If you’re looking for the best backpack for backpacking Europe, the Osprey brand has some great all-rounder backpacks. Osprey is the go-to essential Europe backpacking option and fits most people comfortably. 

2. Day bag

When you’re taking a day trip or going on a hike, you won’t want to bring your huge backpack with you. Leave most of your items locked safely at your accommodation and take along a day bag. Your best bet would be to purchase a foldable daypack that can fit into your bigger backpack.

It will need to fit essentials such as money, a snack, water, and maybe a change of clothes, so it shouldn’t be too big or bulky.

3. Padlocks

Padlocks are a quick, convenient, and inexpensive way to secure your bags and hostel lockers. When assembling your backpacking Europe essentials for your packing list, a small item like this can be a lifesaver! You can also use your luggage lock on your backpack during travel days, ensuring all your belongings are safe, including your passport.

4. Universal travel adapter

Your Europe backpacking packing list should include a universal travel adapter, which will work for your phone charger or any other electronic devices. 

The outlets in continental Europe use the same 2-pronged plug, but if you’re traveling in the UK and Ireland, you’ll need a different 3-pronged system. Rather than taking multiple chargers with you, a multifunctional adapter will do. 

5. Camera

The best travel camera for backpacking europe

Your phone camera is sufficient for everyday life, but backpacking around the world is an incredible experience that you will never want to forget!

Your travel photos will prove invaluable once you return from your epic journey, so be sure to capture all the incredible things you encounter along the way. Bring a camera that not only takes great pictures but also fits easily into your backpack.

These days, the majority of cameras are equipped with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities, so they can be transmitted easily to your laptop or phone to post them online.

You may wish to bring a high-tech DSLR camera to take stunning photographs. For some, a more compact point-and-shoot camera will suffice, and will fit in a day pack without taking up much space.

If you want to take your backpacking adventures to the next level, then consider bringing along a GoPro, which will accompany you everywhere from underwater adventures to skydiving during your European backpacking adventures.

6. Travel towel

Your essential backpacking Europe packing list should include a quick-drying travel towel, since you will be moving from hostel to hostel as you backpack between cities. My favorite travel towel is a Turkish towel which is quick to dry and easy to fit in your backpack. You can also use the towel as a privacy screen if you secure a bottom bunk in a hostel.

7. Power Bank

A power bank is one of the essentials on my backpacking Europe packing list, for multiple reasons. While traveling, you’ll be using your phone much more than normal – for navigation, taking photos, videos, or researching travel tips. On days like this, you’ll want to have a backup battery for your phone. 

I’ve also relied on my power bank during long travel journeys when I use my phone and want to make sure I have enough juice to find my way to the next destination.

8. Change purse

Reliance on physical money is surprisingly still pretty high throughout Europe. Plus, having lots of €1 and €2 Euro coins is a good idea if you want to leave behind tips or donate to street musicians that you’ll see on your trip. 

9. The right shoes

For your backpacking Europe packing list, don’t forget to throw in a pair of rubber sandals for the hostel showers. You should also bring a pair of comfortable but stylish walking shoes. Some nightlife spots will require a certain dress code, but you can get away with leather-style sneakers. And women can get away with stylish looking flats that are secretly super comfortable.

10. Hostel survival kit

If you’ll be staying in hostels, don’t forget these 4 backpacking Europe essentials. We call it the hostel survival kit:

11. The Best Apps for Backpacking Europe

The Best Apps for Backpacking Europe

And lastly, before heading off for your European backpacking adventure, you should load up your phone with a few essential apps that will make backpacking Europe a breeze.

Apps to book transportation from place to place

Given the relatively compact size of Europe, you can travel between major cities by train or bus. There are a few useful apps for European transportation that can help make sure you find the best deal while sticking to your schedule.

  • Omio – compare trains, buses, and flight options in Europe and travel using mobile tickets
  • Trainline – a popular app in the UK to find train and bus tickets 
  • Flixbus – a long-distance bus company that is a favorite mode of travel for budget backpackers
  • Kiwi – a flight search comparison site that helps you find the lowest prices
  • Skyscanner – another classic flight search website that has powerful flexible search options

Apps for Finding Accommodation in Europe

Apps to book discounted activities and Skip the Line tickets

Apps to stay in touch with friends and family back home

If you don’t want to change to an international mobile plan, you can use these apps over free public WiFi to stay in touch with people back home.

We’ve all heard of the top wine destinations like Napa Valley, Bordeaux, and Tuscany, which are on the bucket list for many wine connoisseurs, but there are plenty of wine regions around the globe that are more off the beaten path. And where there is good wine, there is warm weather and great food pairings, a recipe for a perfect vacation. Here are the top romantic wine destination ideas suitable for a getaway on all budgets.

1. Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley California, one of the most romantic wine destinations in the world

Napa Valley, one of the most famous romantic wine destinations in the world, offers lush-green vineyards and stunning views. Napa Valley is home to hundreds of wineries along the hillsides and is home to famous wine varietals like California Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

Some of the most famous vineyards in Napa Valley include Castello di Amorosa, Spottswoode, and Inglenook Winery, where you can sample your share of the Napa red blend wine and satiate the budding sommelier within. If you’re fond of robust red wines or crisp sparkling wines, you must book a wine tour in the Napa Valley region.

While visiting Napa, you can even hop on board the Napa Valley Wine Train, which allows you to make stops at the best Napa wineries without worrying about transportation.

2. Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Another one of the top wine destination ideas on North America’s West Coast is Valle De Guadalupe in Mexico. With over a hundred wineries and multiple wines to choose from, the wine region is quite popular among wine lovers.

You can book a wine tour in the area and learn about high-quality wine-making procedures. The diverse wine grape varieties to try in this region are Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Vermentino.

At famous wineries, you are likely to experience multi-course meals with farm-to-table serving methods. Be sure to pre-book your wine tours for the best experience on an affordable budget. 

3. Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux, France, one of the most romantic wine destinations in the world

Every amateur sommelier wishes to learn about the art of wine-making and the history behind every bottle. If you want to visit the heart of the French wine country, you may choose a wine tour in Bordeaux.

With romantic vineyards and calm surroundings, the place is a haven for wine enthusiasts. While visiting the famous wine region, you should save time to explore the popular attractions in Bordeaux city like Basilique Saint-Michel, Musée des Beaux-Arts, and Musée d’Aquitaine.

4. Tuscany, Italy

If your idea of perfection is a warm evening, a glass of wine, and a stunning sunset over rolling hills, you should plan a trip to the Tuscany wine region in Italy.

The grapevines in this region have been cultivated for over 3000 years, and the native varietals like Sangiovese and Chianti are still produced with a nod to ancient traditions. From day one, you’ll be immersed in the romantic Italian lifestyle with its vintage vibe and its focus on the small pleasures of day-to-day life.

Some popular wineries famous for authentic tasting experiences are Fattoria del Colle – Cantine, and Azienda Agricola Capanna di Cencioni. Once you’ve had your share of countryside life, you can head to nearby famous sights like Florence, Cinque Terre, and Pisa’s Leaning Tower. 

5. Piedmont, Virginia

Deep in the heart of Thomas Jefferson’s former home on the east coast, Piedmont, Virginia now offers the perfect wine getaway to the tourists. The region is home to more than 30 authentic wineries amid the river valleys and rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

You can grab your share of local wines like Grignolino and Pelaverga and spend relaxing evenings with your loved ones. Some of the best wineries to explore in the region are Abellonio Cascina Piccaluga and Cinque Terre Wine. Make sure to enjoy a glass of Barolo at the majestic Isola Bella to round out your wine vacation in Virginia. 

6. Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

The basic requirements for a top wine destination are authentic wine-tasting experiences and breath-taking surroundings. One such destination is Uco Valley in the famous Mendoza wine region in Argentina.

If you wish to taste the native wines like Malbec, then you must book a tour in the Uco Valley, which is known for producing the best Malbec in the world. Some famous wineries to consider are Andeluna and Salentein, where you can taste different styles of wine and take a tour of the facilities.

If you’re up for an outdoor adventure, you can embark on the hiking trail to the popular Aconcagua peak where you’ll enjoy stunning views of the entire Mendoza region.

7. Tenerife, Spain

Tenerife, Spain is famous for delicious wines and stunning views

Spain is well known for its stunning architecture, tapas, and vibrant culture. But if you’re looking for something more off the beaten path, you might consider a trip to the wine-making region on the island of Tenerife.

Tenerife is part of the Canary Islands located off the coast of Morocco, but as an official part of Spain, there are frequent flight connections from all major Spanish cities. Tenerife offers local wine varieties like Listán Blanco for the whites and Listán Negro and Tempranillo for the red wine lovers.

Also, you can enjoy your drink amidst the serene island locations like Costa Adeje and Puerto de la Cruz. For a vacation that’s out of the ordinary, plan your next wine getaway to this Spanish island famous for its wines and turquoise waters. 

Planning your Next Romantic Wine Destination

If you’re a wine lover, you may want to plan your next getaway to one of the many top wine destination ideas around the world. Lucky for wine-lovers, the best vines are found in sunny locations with great weather, making them a perfect place for a long vacation.

Whether you choose a world-famous wine destination like Tuscany, Mendoza, or Napa Valley, or want to get more off the beaten path in Valle De Guadalupe or Piedmont, there are countless places on earth where you can sample top-notch wines amidst stunning landscapes.

The romantic charm of rolling vineyards and the luxury of fine wines make a wine vacation a great option, whether you’re traveling with a partner or a group of friends. Cheers!

Are you currently dreaming of your next travel escapade? With talks of the travel industry starting up again in June, it’s finally time to start planning your next adventure. From June onwards can be expensive, so your best bet for an affordable adventure is to travel in September. 

The great thing about September is that plenty of countries are still getting a lot of sun with the added benefit of fewer tourists. If you are stuck for destination inspiration, take a look at our guide on where to travel in September, whether you’re into skiing or sunbathing. 

Aruba

Aruba is a great place to visit in September

Aruba is one of the best and most beautiful places to visit if you’re looking for a mixture of relaxation and adventure. Especially in September when temperatures are just right for exploring and lounging.

This Southern Caribbean island is known for its stunning white-sand beaches and natural wonders, favoured by archaeology enthusiasts and snorkelers alike. If you want to explore historical sites by day and let loose at night, then Aruba’s capital Oranjestad is a good place to stay. 

However, if you prefer a more low-key vacation, you should consider visiting Andicuri Beach, which offers the perfect off-the-track tropical location. 

Canada

A complete contrast to Aruba is the equally stunning Canada, where you won’t catch the best tan, but you will definitely find some sights to remember – maybe even a bear or two. In fact, September is the ideal time to visit, as this is the peak month for salmon, forcing bears out of hibernation. You can even stay at a bear-watching lodge in British Columbia, where you can spot the local inhabitants from the safety of cosy accommodation. 

Visit Canada in September for prime grizzly-watching season

During September, you can enjoy the landscape transition from green to golden in the Rockies, which will make your hiking trip extra special. You can also explore additional trails and lakes without the worry of excessive rainfall or even snow, making your journey safer and warmer. 

Italy

If you live in the UK and wondering where to travel in September without the hassle of a long flight, why not consider Italy, which typically takes less than three hours? You also don’t need a visa to travel to Italy for more than 90 days if you’re a UK citizen, so you can explore plenty of locations within this time. 

September weather is also perfect in Italy, especially if visiting places like Rome, which can be overbearing in the peak of summer with scorching temperatures and large crowds. This will make your sightseeing experience much more enjoyable. If you’re looking to get off the beaten path, explore our top pics for the best hidden gems in Italy.

San Gimignano - one of Italy’s hidden gems

There are also plenty of September harvest festivals where you can enjoy plenty of great food and wine, of course. Venice also hosts the Regata Storica on the first Sunday in September, a boat racing festival that should definitely be on your bucket list.


So, where will your next adventure be? Snorkelling in crystal blue waters, hiking in the Rockies, or enjoying Roman ruins? If you still haven’t decided where to travel in September, why not look at our country guides for backpackers

 

For avid travelers, the pandemic has been tough. Maybe you had to cancel a trip that you’ve been planning for ages, or maybe you’ve had to repeatedly silence that inner voice begging you to pack your bags and explore a new place. During these times, many travelers and backpackers are looking for other ways to soothe their wanderlust. Some are using the time to document their past travels, some are making extensive plans for life after the pandemic, and some are turning to travel movies, podcasts, and books to keep their hope alive!

If you’re looking to experience travel without leaving your couch, here is our round-up of the best movies about travel and backpacking. Sometimes a travel movie is just the ticket, whether you want to relive a past adventure or live vicariously through the characters as they journey through beautiful places.

The Before Series

Set in Vienna, Paris, and Greece

For single travelers, isn’t it secretly the dream to meet your soulmate on the road? Just us? Regardless, this trilogy of movies is set in a different European country each time and tells the story of two people from different places who are drawn to each other over the span of decades. These award-winning movies are not only set in stunning locations, they are a profound study on the highs and lows of human connection.

Before Sunrise: Watch it on Amazon

Before Sunset: Watch it on Amazon

Before Midnight: Watch it on Amazon

Motorcycle Diaries

Set in South America

Responsible for launching thousands of backpacking journeys through South America, Motorcycle Diaries is one of our all-time favorite travel movies. This one is a classic, whether you want to relive your personal travel experiences or want to experience the gorgeous countryside of Argentina vicariously through the antics of the two main characters.

Watch it on Netflix

The Darjeeling Limited

Set in India

Wes Anderson always delivers on the visuals, and this movie about three brothers on a train adventure in India is no different. It’s a travel-themed, smart comedy. Don’t blink, or you might miss a visual joke or a brilliant moment of dialog. A classic we could watch again and again.

Watch it for free on YouTube

The Way

Set in Northern Spain

The story of a father who walks the Camino del Santiago in honor of his son. Anyone thinking of walking the famous pilgrimage route should catch this movie about backpacking from France to the western coast of Spain. The film will give you a glimpse into the countryside and the different types of travelers that you are likely to meet on the trail. 

Watch it on Amazon

Into the Wild

Set in Alaska

Despite its tragic ending (is it a spoiler if it was based on a true story?), this gorgeous movie pays tribute to a man with an extreme need to get off the beaten path. One of the best travel-themed soundtracks of all time, this ultimate wanderlust movie is a must-see for any true explorer.

Watch it on Netflix

Roman Holiday

Set in Rome, Italy

The glamour and timeless charm of old Hollywood set in the dynamic city of Rome. A dream combination of acting talent featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck with an endearing storyline.

Watch it on Amazon

The Beach

Set in Thailand

No matter how many times we rewatch this classic backpacking movie, there’s just something about Leo wandering along Khao San Road that brings us back to our adventures in Thailand. Maybe it’s the fact that most Thai hostels have travel movie nights featuring The Beach? Either way, there is just something about the raw scenes and commentary about backpacking culture that keeps us coming back for more.

Watch it on Amazon

Tracks

Set in Australia

This ultimate backpacking movie is based on a true story: In the mid-1970s, young Robyn Davidson walked across the Australian continent, accompanied only by her dog and four camels. The journey was 2,700 kilometers long and lasted eight months. Set in the stunning yet rugged Australian Outback, this ultimate solo female travel movie allows you to follow along on the journey that few will ever take. 

Watch for free on Amazon

Lost in Translation

Set in Japan

This movie is able to perfectly capture the disorienting yet addicting feeling of being a fish out of water during your travels. Its accolades should be reason enough to catch this quirky travel movie: 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay (Sofia Coppola), and Academy Award Nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Bill Murray), & Best Director (Sofia Coppola).

Watch for free with Amazon Prime

Out of Africa

Set in Kenya

This classic romantic drama is based on a true story, and features young Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in the leading roles. With its gorgeous scenery and thrilling events, it’s a way to travel to Kenya from the comfort of your sofa.

Watch it on Amazon

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Set in India

Filmed in beautiful Udaipur, this British travel movie follows a group of retirees who are looking for adventure. The film is packed with stunning scenes that capture the beautiful chaos of India and has a charming cast of characters (Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, and Maggie Smith).

Watch it on Amazon

Wild

Set on the Pacific Crest Trail

The backpacking movie that inspired solo female travelers everywhere. This is the true story of hard-core Sheryl Strayed who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail after experiencing deep heartbreak. We love it for the beautiful scenery of the U.S. West Coast and the depictions of familiar struggles that every long-haul backpacker will know all too well.

Watch it on Amazon

Under the Tuscan Sun

Set in Italy

Nowadays, the premise is a bit of a cliché (a woman in crisis travels to a foreign country for adventure and learns a lot about herself in the process), but Under the Tuscan Sun is a classic! The movie still holds up today because of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside and the warmth of Italian culture that can be felt in every scene. A must-watch for anyone who yearns for Italy.

Watch it on Amazon

Amelie

Set in Paris, France

Anyone who loves Paris has to dive into the wonderful world of Amelie. It is fantasy surrealism set in an idealistic version of Paris. Watching this movie is like curling up with a nostalgic childhood book, and the city of Paris and its people drive the story forward.

Watch it on Amazon

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Set in Iceland, Himalayas, and more

This inspiring film is about a man who overcomes his resistance to love and adventure. The story takes place in many gorgeous places on earth, but it’s the attitude and perspective embodied by the main character that has motivated many to get out of their comfort zone and see the world.

Watch it on Amazon

A Walk in the Woods

Set on the Appalachian Trail

This classic backpacking movie is set on the famous Appalachian Trail. It also has a star-studded cast with lovably grumpy Nick Nolte, forever-old-soul Robert Redford, and effortlessly charming Emma Thompson. Need we say more?

Watch it on Amazon

Copenhagen

Set in Copenhagen, Denmark

An indie film and the recipient of multiple international film festival awards, Copenhagen is a coming-of-age story set in, you guessed it, Copenhagen. With a compelling story about the main character backpacking throughout Europe, and the gorgeous city of Copenhagen as the backdrop, you’ll get a serious dose of Scandinavian vibes.

Watch for free on Amazon

Roma

Set in Mexico City, Mexico

This Oscar winner (Best Cinematography) depicts the raw experiences of the director’s life in Mexico City. It’s a true story about overcoming adversity and finding beauty in imperfect situations.

Watch it on Netflix

Midnight in Paris

Set in Paris, France

A surreal fantasy story about Paris and all of its famous residents. This quirky Woody Allen movie lead by Owen Wilson is highly recommended for anyone who has been to Paris or is dreaming of the day when they can visit for themselves. And with an Academy Award, a Grammy, a Golden Globe, and 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, you can be sure it’s worth your while!

Watch it on Amazon

Eat, Pray, Love

Set in Italy, India, and Bali

We know, we know, you’ve already seen it. But what travel movie list would be complete without this mainstream classic? Although Julia Roberts wasn’t our favorite leading lady in a travel movie, we can’t ignore the fact that the places depicted in this movie (Italy, India, and Bali) gave us serious inspiration for future travels.

Watch it on Amazon

More movies set in amazing locations

While the plot doesn’t necessarily focus on backpacking or travel, these movies are set in gorgeous places around the globe. ‘Travel’ vicariously by immersing yourself in the characters and settings:

  1. Chocolat – set in rural France
  2. French Kiss – set in Paris, France
  3. Letters to Juliet – set in Verona & Tuscany, Italy
  4. Lion – set in Australia and India
  5. The Sound of Music – set in Austria
  6. A Good Year – set in Provence, France
  7. 7 Years in Tibet – set in China & Tibet
  8. Endless Summer – set in surfing locations around the world
  9. In Bruges – set in Belgium
  10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople – set in New Zealand
  11. Y tu Mama Tambien – set in Mexico
  12. The Lives of Others – set in Berlin, Germany
  13. The Bourne Trilogy – set across Europe
  14. My Life in Ruins – set in Greece

With its romantic rolling hills, an abundance of Roman ruins, soaring basilicas, and picture-perfect cliffside towns, it’s no wonder that Italy is a top travel destination. Unfortunately, in peak tourist season, even the smallest towns feel more like a theme park, with visitors waiting for hours to visit a place they’ve waited a lifetime to see. Luckily, there is good news for those who want to visit Italy without dealing with the hordes of tourists. In fact, part of the appeal of the country is the number of hidden gems in Italy sprinkled throughout the country. Before you dismiss a trip because it’s ‘too touristy’, take a look through our top places off the beaten path in Italy.

1. Spoleto

Ponte delle Torri in Spoleto - one of Italy's hidden gems

Image by Solfaroli Renzo from Pixabay

The town of Spoleto is medieval Italy at its best, with a Roman theater, Christian basilicas, and narrow winding streets. The highlight of Spoleto is the Ponte Delle Torri, an impressive stone aqueduct spanning a deep gorge. Today, one of the best things to do in Spoleto is to take to the walking trails outside of town. You’ll traverse nearby forests, walk along a ravine, and end at a picture-perfect view of the magnificent aqueduct. From there, you can cross using a narrow walkway, visit the castles at both ends of the bridge, or hike up to the nearby Rocco fortress. 

2. Agrigento and Selinunte, Sicily

Acropolis in Agrigento - one of Italy's hidden gems

Image by hbieser from Pixabay

These columned temples in Agrigento and Selinunte give the Acropolis in Athens a run for its money. Since Sicily was originally the richest of the Grecian territory, they were built 100 years before the world-famous Acropolis. Because the Sicilian temples are off the beaten path in Italy, experience the wonders of Ancient Greece without any the notorious crowds. The ruins are well-preserved for visitors, and particularly special because of their beautiful setting right on the Sicilian coastline.

3. Herculaneum

The Italian town of Herculaneum suffered the same misfortune as its more famous sister city, Pompeii, on the fateful day when Mount Vesuvius entombed the cities in ash. However, Herculaneum is arguably one of Italy’s best hidden gems because it is a bit unknown, less crowded, and perhaps even more well-preserved because it received less attention from historians and visitors. The ruins at Herculaneum cover a smaller area than those at Pompeii, but this makes it easier to grasp. The crucial layer of tufa rock (a form of solidified mud), which helped preserve Pompeii, was much thicker at Herculean, practically creating an airtight seal over the city until it was discovered in the 1700s. If you want to imagine what life was like in ancient Italy, you’re better off visiting Herculean than braving the crowds at Pompeii.

4. Lecce

Lecce - one of Italy's hidden gems

Image by Luca Bove from Pixabay

Southern Italy itself is already off the beaten path, and while you’re there, we recommend spending some time in one of the greatest hidden gems in Italy, the town of Lecce. The city’s name comes from the lace-like Lecce Baroque motif, which decorates many of the building facades. Not only is the architecture impressive, but the city itself is perched on a tall cliff, where it seems to spring up from the sea. Save your energy for a night-time walk, when the town looks especially enchanting with the building facades lit up.

5. San Gimignano, Italy

Image by Makalu from Pixabay

Built around the same time as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the towers in San Gimignano are the highlight of this well-preserved medieval town. While the word has gotten out in recent years about San Gimignano’s beauty, it’s still off the beaten path in Italy compared to nearby Pisa or Florence. Cars are banned in the city center, making it a perfect place to imagine what life was like in 12th century Italy. Today, you can climb the tallest remaining tower, The Torre Forssa, which is nearly as tall as the tower in Pisa. If you’re there in July, time your visit with the Feria delle Messi, a medieval festival complete with musicians, knights, and acrobats.

6. Paestum, Campagna, Italy

Paestum, Campagna - one of Italy’s hidden gems

Image by pascal OHLMANN from Pixabay

The three temples in Paestum are some of the most well-preserved examples of Ancient Greek architecture south of Naples. The massive temples were built in the 5th and 6th century BC, and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite this recognition, Paestum is still off the beaten path in Italy, meaning you might even be the only tourist around – almost unheard of in Italy. Don’t miss the Tomb of the Diver in this fantastic hidden gem of Italy, which is the only example before the 4th century BC of large-scale Greek painting.

7. Siena

A gorgeous hilltop town in the Tuscany region, Siena is the perfect destination for a day trip from bustling Florence if you want to get off the beaten path in Italy. The Piazza del Campo exemplifies the Tuscan lifestyle at its finest, and you’ll find picturesque sights around every corner in this small Italian hidden gem.

8. Giardino dei Tarocchi, Garavicchio, Italy

Image by sinepax from Pixabay

This sculpture garden in Garavicchio is one of Italy’s hidden gems that is not to be missed. The larger than life sculptures represent the different cards in a Tarot deck. The French artist Niki de Saint Phalle spent the last 20 years of her life assembling the garden out of ceramics, mosaics, and glass. Spend a fanciful day off the beaten path in Italy, exploring the eclectic cartoon-like figures.

9. Umbria

Assisi in Umbria - one of Italy’s hidden gems

Image by evondue from Pixabay

Umbria has much of the same charm as its neighbor, Tuscany: gorgeous countryside, charming towns, and dreamy weather. However, it’s succeeded in remaining off the beaten path of Italy, which means you’ll encounter far fewer crowds. The hilltop towns of Trevi, Narni, and Montefalco are still relatively free from crowds of tourists. Not only is the countryside and architecture top-notch, but even Italians acknowledge that Umbria has some of the best food in the country.

10. Guggenheim Foundation and San Pietro in Volta Venice

If it’s your first trip to Italy, there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll have to visit Venice. Sadly, mass tourism has severely impacted the city, which can be a big disappointment for many first time visitors. To avoid the disillusionment, spend some of your time getting off the beaten path in Italy’s most crowded city. One of our favorite escapes is the Guggenheim Foundation Museum, it’s a bit more unknown but equally impressive as the Doge museum in Venice. Our other insider’s time is to visit the island of San Pietro in Volta. It’s one of many in the lagoon islands surrounding Venice, and you’ll be able to take a quick breather before braving the crowded narrow alleyways of larger Venice.

11. Bologna 

Another hidden gem in Italy is the medieval city of Bologna. Rivaling Prague in its beauty, Bologna impresses visitors from the outset, due to its red-hued buildings. An eclectic mix of Renaissance, medieval, and Baroque buildings, the city is also well-known among Italians for its food scene. While you’re there, pay a visit to Università di Bologna, the world’s oldest university founded in 1088.

12. Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica - one of Italy’s hidden gems

Image by neufal54 from Pixabay

Any trip to Italy isn’t complete without a visit to Rome. But just like Venice and Florence, your experience can be marred by the crowds of tourists. Ostia Antica, the old port, is one of Rome’s hidden gems. To get there, you can either take the Rome metro or a short cruise. The highlight in Ostia Antica is the Forum of the Corporations, a collection of ruins where original mosaics are still visible. You can also see examples of Roman warehouses, baths, an old pub, latrines, and countless temples, including a 2nd-century Synagogue. The best time to visit is late afternoon so that you can watch the sunset over the ocean, casting a gorgeous warm light on the ruins.

13. Ivrea’s Battle of Oranges

If you travel to Ivrea on Shrove Tuesday, you’ll encounter the Battle of Oranges, Italy’s version of the Spanish Tomatina festival. For four days, costumed people take to the normally-quiet streets of Ivrea to throw sweet oranges at each other. The festival commemorates a 12-century conflict between the townspeople and a local tyrant. Some townsfolk dress up as the oppressed villagers; some others play the part of the aristocracy. It’s impossible not to smile and join in at the absurdity of it all!

14. Puglia Region

Trulli houses in Alberobello, Puglia - one of Italy’s hidden gems

Image by Jacopo Cima from Pixabay

The ‘heel’ region of the country’s famous boot shape, the Puglia region is still relatively off the beaten path in Italy. Here, you’ll find stunning villages overlooking the Adriatic Sea like Trani, Molfetta, and Bari. Still, our favorite site is Alberobello, full of trulli – unique prehistoric dwellings with conical stone roofs. Within Puglia, visit the breathtaking city of Lecce, itself a hidden gem of Italy.

15. Via Francigena

This ancient road to Rome is Italy’s version of Spain’s Camino de Santiago. Officially, the ancient road stretches from Canterbury to Rome and has been a pilgrim’s route since AD 500. If you start north of the Italian border, the trek takes you through the Alps past the monastery that still breeds Saint Bernard rescue dogs. Walk the Roman basalt-paved roads and pass through medieval-era towns just like the pilgrims who have walked the path for centuries. When you finally arrive in Rome, you will have the quiet satisfaction of knowing that you reached this tourist mecca with your own two feet.


Are you thinking of taking a trip to Italy? Read our guide to backpacking Italy for tips on staying on budget, how to travel around, entry visas, and a handy Italian phrasebook.

Hidden gems in Italy – 15 places off the beaten path